Six Ways Getting More Sleep Can Improve Your Life

Written by on October 1, 2012 in Health - No comments | Print this page


A precious commodity that only requires the costly investment of time, millions of Americans wake up bleary eyed in the morning due to a lack of sleep. Because most people have work and family schedules that demand so much of their time, sleep often gets categorized as a luxury few can afford. So no matter how appealing the idea of getting seven to eight hours of rest a night, millions of people each day make do with five or six. But how much difference could just an extra hour or two of sleep a night really make anyway? Quite a lot, actually.

A number of studies in recent years have shown that the ever widening gap between getting too little sleep and getting just enough could make a huge difference in a person’s mood, weight, health, and even sex life. If you’re the type of person who gets less than eight hours of sleep a night, here are a few reasons why you should turn off the lights and head to bed a little earlier tonight.

Better Health

While getting eight hours of sleep won’t make you impervious to getting sick, numerous studies have found a link between how much sleep a person gets a night and such serious health problems as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and heart attack. Fortunately, for most people these types of health problems only arise after several years of serious sleep loss. Individuals who are the greatest risk of developing sleep related medical conditions are those who work nights or graveyard shifts.

Improved Sex Life

In a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, 26 percent of those surveyed said they believed their sex life had suffered due to feeling too tired. Some circumstantial evidence even suggests that men who suffer from a lack of sleep may develop lower testosterone levels, although a clear link has yet to be established. A lack of sleep could also affect your love life in less direct ways as well. For example, if you always feel too tired to go out at night, you might be sleeping through the opportunity to meet that someone special to begin with.

Improve Pain Tolerance

Several studies have shown that people who suffer from chronic pain, such as from a recent injury, developed a higher threshold for pain when they received at least eight hours of sleep a night. This can help a person become less dependant on pain medication to easy their discomfort. Of course, if you’re in a great deal of pain it can be difficult to fall asleep at night. Fortunately, a number of pain medications also double as sleep medications, so you can rest a little easier.

Lower Your Risk of Injury

Your body won’t become tougher by getting enough sleep at night, but you’ll become more alert and less likely to get into an accident due to sleep deprivation. Approximately one out of every five auto accidents in the U.S. is the result of drowsy driving, estimates the Institute of Medicine. Feeling exhausted doesn’t just mean you’re only at risk when operating heavy machinery, being tired also makes you more likely to stumble, trip, cut yourself slicing a bagel, or fall of a ladder. Stay rested, stay alert.

Improved Mood

You won’t suddenly become the life of the party just because you’re well rested, but you’ll be less likely to break into tears or tear someone’s head off because the guacamole has too much garlic either. A lack of sleep negatively affects the chemicals in the brain that help to regulate emotion. Feeling overly tired makes you more likely to have trouble controlling your emotions, whether they are good or bad.

Weight Control

Studies have shown that individuals have a better chance of maintaining their weight when they get enough sleep at night. Conversely, they also have a higher risk of gaining weight after losing sleep. Part of why this occurs is due to a lack of energy a sleep deprived person may suffer from that would prevent them from taking a jog around the block or cooking that healthy meal instead of stopping by McDonalds on the way home from work. A lack of sleep also causes the body to produce less of the hormone leptin, which regulates how full you feel after eating. So the more sleep a person receives, the more active they feel and the less hungry they become. Now that sounds like a winning combination for losing weight.

This is a guest post.  Timothy Lemke blogs about how to live a healthy lifestyle for Dr. Tiffany Goldwyn, a dentist in Portland Oregon at Southwest Portland Dental. 

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